Just like other formal events, such as a graduation, wedding, or funeral, your son’s Rite of Passage weekend should officially begin with an entrance ceremony. There are two main reasons why we recommend holding an entrance ceremony: 1) to invite God’s presence to be with you and 2) to provide a clear start to the Rite of Passage.
The father or organizer of the ROP does not necessarily have to lead the entrance ceremony; the task can be delegated to one of the other men present. There are many ways that an entrance ceremony can be conducted. Reading a Scripture passage, reading a written prayer, or praying spontaneously from the heart without any rehearsal are all options.
One good option for your entrance ceremony is to read Exodus 3:1– 14 as a group. In this Bible passage, Moses finds himself in the presence of God in the form of a burning bush. Like Moses, you, too, wish to be in the presence of God during the weekend. Of course, we are always in God’s presence, but sometimes we need reminders that He is always near. It can be so easy to think of God as distant and removed from our lives.
The image of the burning bush plays an important symbolic role. As a reminder that you are in God’s presence, part of the entrance ceremony involves lighting a fire upon entering the cabin. The fire in the wood stove is your version of the burning bush. Don’t wait to light the fire whenever you get around to it; light it immediately upon entering the cabin. You should also not allow the fire to burn itself out at any point during the weekend. Keeping the fire going for the entire time symbolizes that it is important to keep your relationship with God alive throughout your life. Even though your relationship will sometimes be hot and at other times it will be colder, you never want it to become fully extinguished. This makes selecting the location for the Rite of Passage a bit more restrictive, because not all venues have a wood fireplace or stove.
The Scripture passage from Exodus also has references to Moses taking off his sandals in the presence of God, which you can incorporate into the weekend by taking off your shoes when you enter the cabin. The cabin is your sacred space, and you want to act like one would in the presence of God.
Finally, in the passage, God declares that, “I am the God of your father . . . the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob . . .” God tells Moses that He transcends generations. This is as true today as it was when God spoke to Moses. It is important for your son to know that he shares the same loving God as his father, his grandfather, and all previous generations before them.
This is a good time to tell the group that once you enter the cabin, you won’t be leaving it until the weekend is over. Leaving the cabin would be a distraction from the real purpose of the weekend. You are there for an important reason—to initiate your son into manhood. It is the one and only purpose to be gathered together that weekend. This is not the time for hikes in the woods or long walks on the beach. Although we encourage incorporating fun activities into the weekend, the fun activities should be completed before the Rite of Passage officially begins. Staying in the cabin helps to reinforce the first of the three traditional elements of a Rite of Passage: the withdrawal. Once the ROP begins, you are closed off from the rest of the world and solely focused on your mission.
The entrance ceremony marks the official beginning of the Rite of Passage. It’s a ritual designed to make the experience memorable for your son. He will enter the Rite of Passage as a boy; and he will leave the Rite of Passage as a man.